Coming off a 30-point defeat to No. 3 Connecticut—Duke’s first loss of the season—there’s no doubt the Blue Devils are eager to move on and return to ACC play.
The No. 4 Blue Devils (16-1, 6-0 in the ACC) will defend their undefeated ACC record Thursday at Clemson (5-12, 1-5 in ACC), which is coming off a 10-point victory against Wake Forest.
In the previous matchup between the Blue Devils and the Tigers Jan. 10, Duke cruised to an 82-47 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils held a six-point advantage in that game with 17 minutes remaining before going on a 22-0 run to seal the victory.
Against Connecticut, however, Duke’s first half play was strong and placed the Blue Devils down two points at the break. Connecticut’s offense awoke in the second half, however, as the Huskies went on a 20-5 run that blew open the game.
A major trend for Duke this season has been inconsistency between halves and Clemson will certainly test the Blue Devils resolve coming off a challenging loss. The bright spot from Duke’s loss, though, was the play of freshman guard Alexis Jones, who scored a career-high 14 points and led Duke in scoring. Jones starts in the backcourt with Chelsea Gray and has the ability to play on the wing or run the point, allowing Gray to play off the ball and score.
The Blue Devils will look for Jones and Gray to provide the defensive intensity and offensive flow that led to victories earlier in the season. With a healthy Elizabeth Williams, who scored 11 points Monday night, along with a talented bench that includes guard Chloe Wells and forward Richa Jackson, Duke will look to find its rhythm offensively and establish a defensive intensity throughout the 40 minutes of play.
The Blue Devils have found success against Clemson both as a team and individually. Williams, Wells, and guard Tricia Liston all had strong performances when matched up with the Tigers. The trio combined for 45 points in the game earlier this month with Wells leading all bench players in scoring with 10 points.
Clemson is led by forward Nikki Dickson and center Quinyotta Pettaway, who each had strong games in the win against Wake Forest last Thursday. Dixon, the team’s leading scorer, averages 14.3 points per game this season, but was held to 11 by the Duke defense the last time out. Pettaway, who leads the ACC in rebounding during league play with 12.3 rebounds per game, managed just six points and eight rebounds when opposed by Williams in the paint.